Global vaccine rollout: How the world is doing


Getting the world vaccinated against COVID-19 is a matter of life and death, and a race against time as fatalities rise around the globe. But how are countries managing the rollouts, which involve complicated logistics, competition between countries, shortages in supply, and not always equitable accessibility to those in need.

More than 80 countries and territories are currently administering vaccines. Here is how some are doing it, and why some are doing it better than others.




First vaccination: 14 December 2020

Number of jabs: 46,390,270 total

Rate of vaccination: 14.02 doses per 100 people

Vaccines used: Moderna (2 doses); Pfizer/BioNTech (2 doses)


US President Joe Biden declared that previous president Donald Trump's vaccine rollout had been "a dismal failure".

The US fell far short of the target set by the Trump administration to vaccinate 20 million people by the end of 2020.

By December 31, fewer than three million had received a jab.

US President-elect Joe Biden receives second dose of COVID-19 vaccine
US President-elect Joe Biden receives second dose of COVID-19 vaccine

After taking office Mr Biden pledged to boost the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in the US, the worst-hit country in the world, and committed to overseeing 100 million vaccine doses administered in his first 100 days.

"I think we may be able to get that to 1.5 million a day, rather than one million a day."

Mr Biden's administration shipped a million vaccine doses to around 6,500 chemists and supermarket pharmacies nationwide.

Mass vaccination sites opened, from Disneyland to Yankee Stadium.



Most states and cities have a phased vaccine rollout program targeting vulnerable groups.

For example, in New York, eligible residents include individuals over 65, workers who are first responders in emergency services, public-facing essential workers such as health carers, transit personnel, retail/restaurant staff or teachers.

Beginning 15 February, adult New Yorkers of any age with certain chronic health conditions including pregnancy can be vaccinated.

Controversial studies and reports showed that Black people and ethnic minorities were not only at a higher mortality rate from COVID-19, but were having trouble accessing vaccine sites.

In some cities like Washington DC, reports emerged that wealthier white people were crashing clinics in poorer Black neighbourhoods just to get their shot.

However, in general, vaccine shortages have plagued all American cities for months, and Los Angeles was forced to suspend operation of vaccine centres after it ran out of jabs.



LA moved to temporarily close five major inoculation centres including its giant Dodger Stadium site on 11 Feb. even as California topped the nation's pandemic death toll.

"We're vaccinating people faster than new vials are arriving here in Los Angeles, and I'm very concerned right now," said Mayor Eric Garcetti, slamming the vaccine supply as "uneven … unpredictable and too often inequitable."

First injections of the Moderna vaccine ran out with only health workers, nursing home residents, and residents over 65 eligible to receive the vaccine.

Health authorities announced plans to extend vaccination to other "essential" professions, including teachers, within the next two to three weeks but whether there will be enough does is another matter.

While many elderly people, police and emergency rescue workers are still on the waiting list, some cannabis store workers were jumping the queue, the Los Angeles Times reported.

In California, cannabis is classed as a medicine, giving dispensary staff "medical worker" status and early access to vaccines.







First vaccination: 8 December 2020

Number of jabs: 15.6 million

Rate of vaccination: 23.35 doses per 100 people

Vaccines used: Oxford/AstraZeneca (2 doses); Pfizer/BioNTech (2 doses)


After a largely bungled response to the coronavirus pandemic, the government implemented an impressive vaccine rollout.

Sports centres, historic cathedrals and other landmarks were rapidly repurposed as temporary vaccination centres in a global drive to administer the lifesaving jabs.

England's health officials set a target to jab everyone over the age of 70, the clinically extremely vulnerable, and health and care workers before 15 February, a group totalling 15 million.

This target was achieved, and this total is more than Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Poland and Belgium combined. Today, the UK has the third-highest vaccination rate worldwide behind Israel and the UAE.

Boris Johnson defends effectiveness of AstraZeneca vaccine
Boris Johnson defends effectiveness of AstraZeneca vaccine



Britain had one of the highest national death tolls globally (117,000), having initially botched its approach to any cohesive national response to the pandemic, a patchwork of on-and-off lockdown restrictions, a reluctance to enforce rules and inconsistent track and trace methods.

But one thing the government did right was to back the development of coronavirus vaccines from the get-go with the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine an early candidate in the race to find a COVID cure.

The government's next goal is to have jabs offered to all over-50s by May, and the entire adult population to have been vaccinated by September.







Germany (as an example)

First vaccination: 26 December 2020

Number of jabs: 3,669,148

Rate of vaccination: 4.38 doses per 100 people

Vaccines used: Moderna (2 doses); Oxford/AstraZeneca (2 doses); Pfizer/BioNTech (2 doses)


The vaccine rollout in the European Union has been a debacle, with sluggish supplies, shortages, bickering between the member states, and a diplomatic row with the UK.

Earlier in February, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen criticised UK PM Boris Johnson's "confrontational" space-race mentality on vaccinations.

Von der Leyen warned an international meeting of students organised by Warwick University that competition over vaccines and vaccination rates resembled the Cold War.




"When I was your age the world was still divided into two blocs," she said. "The superpowers fought to expand or maintain their sphere of influence. Well, this world is long gone and yet the old confrontational mindset is back.

"Some countries view the search for a vaccine as a race among world powers, like the race for space in the 1960s."

She added: "This is not a competition between Europeans, Russians, Chinese and Americans: this is too serious."

The EU has been irritated by Mr Johnson's trumpeting of the Britain's vaccination success.

Even with the popularity of mobile vaccination units in France and Germany, the rollout has been painfully slow.




About 18 per cent of the UK population has been vaccinated compared with 4 per cent in the EU.

But Ms von der Leyen has herself faced criticism over her handling of the EU's centralised vaccine strategy and export restrictions on jabs made in Europe. Recently, she had to reverse plans to reintroduce customs controls on the Irish land border to potentially prevent the export of vaccines to the UK.

Von der Leyen said comparing the British vaccination rate to Europe's was unfair because Britain was a "speed boat" compared with the EU's "tanker", where decisions had to be taken by 27 governments.

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, admitted that the UK's lead in vaccinations rankled but she defended the EU approach as the "right thing to do".

But Germany and France are even lagging behind neighbours, Italy and Spain, with Germany blaming its hampered vaccine rollout on production setbacks for all three of the vaccines so far approved in the European Union.

With frustration growing in many EU countries as people face prolonged lockdown without the prospect of being vaccinated for months, some nations on the continent have welcomed China and Russia's export of their vaccines.

Hungary will become the first EU nation to start using Russia's Sputnik V vaccine, the country's chief medical officer said.

Bosnia and Herzegovina's entity Republic of Srpska acquired the Russian vaccine through direct purchase from Russia.

And Serbia is a fan of China's jab. Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić welcomed a shipment of one million doses of a Chinese-made vaccine to Belgrade after soliciting supplies from Beijing in October and other EU countries may follow.





First vaccination: 16 January 2021

Number of jabs: 7,505,010

Rate of vaccination; 0.54 doses per 100 people

Vaccines used: Covaxin (Bharat Biotech) (2 doses); Covishield (Oxford/AstraZeneca) (2 doses)


One of the hardest hit, most populous nations India has nevertheless embarked on one of the world's more ambitious coronavirus vaccine programs.

In its favour, India has the advantage of huge manufacturing capacity for pharmaceuticals, and the Serum Institute of India, in Pune, is the world's largest vaccine manufacturer.


The Indian government realised early on that it would be wise to develop its own vaccines. Two vaccines have been approved so far: Covaxin and developed by Bharat Biotech and the state-run Indian Council of Medical Research, and Covishield, the locally produced version of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine.

There are several more in the works based on different technologies, including one from Bangalore-based Mynvax that doesn't need to be refrigerated, which would be a plus for developing nations.

The government is aiming to vaccinate 300 million people by July, about a fifth of the 1.4 billion population.

In the first two weeks of the vaccine program India inoculated over 3.5m people.

The vaccination program is focusing on healthcare and frontline workers first, and then people aged over 50.



But convincing people of all classes, castes, religions and regions to get the vaccine has been a challenge.

Once it has jabbed most of its population, India plans to be charitable and offer help to other developing and poorer nations.

Under its COVAX program, India will supply 10 million doses to Africa and a million doses to the UN. India will even be sending vaccines to adversary Pakistan.

The government sees an opportunity to boost its standing by supplying millions of doses of made in India vaccines to its neighbours as gifts, as well as securing commercial deals with countries such as Mongolia, Canada, and Saudi Arabia.





First vaccination: 14 December 2020

Number of jabs: 1,186,400

Rate of vaccination: 3.14 doses per 100 people

Vaccines used: Moderna (2 doses); Pfizer/BioNTech (2 doses)


Despite being a wealthy and developed nation, Canada has been struggling with its vaccine rollout. After recent delays, Canada's COVID-19 vaccine supply will be back on track, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently announced.

The availability of vaccines was sluggish with no domestic production capabilities and deliveries of the first Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna doses sourced from Europe had been delayed.


Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau delivers his speech in Montreal. Picture: AP
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau delivers his speech in Montreal. Picture: AP



So far, only 2.4 per cent of Canadians have received the first of two required doses of the two vaccines, and 0.5 per cent have received both shots needed for immunity against the coronavirus.

Outstanding deliveries of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines plus the purchase of additional doses from Moderna, the only two approved for use in Canada so far, will bring the nation's total supply to 84 million doses by the end of September, he said.

That is more than enough to inoculate all of Canada's 38 million people using the two-dose vaccines.

"We've been continuing to work every single day on getting as many doses as possible as quickly as possible into Canadians' arms," Mr Trudeau told a news conference.

Mr Trudeau said four million Pfizer-BioNTech doses would now be delivered in March, plus another 10.8 million between April and June, and 25 million subsequently.

He also announced the purchase of an additional four million Moderna doses to be delivered over the summer, on top of 40 million previously ordered doses.

Hedging bets, Canada had placed orders and secured options for more than 400 million doses of vaccines from seven pharmaceutical firms.

It is continuing to evaluate vaccines made by AstraZeneca, Sanofi and GSK, Novavax, Johnson & Johnson, and Medicago.





First vaccination: 15 December 2020

Number of jabs: 40,520,000 total doses given

Rate of vaccination: 2.82 doses per 100 people

Vaccines used: Sinopharm (2 doses); Sinovac (2 doses)


Despite Beijing's claims that it had largely beaten the coronavirus pandemic, China's vaccine rollout is happening more slowly than expected.

Weeks into China's campaign, the effort fell short of an internal target of vaccinating 50 million people by the Chinese New Year holiday that started 11 February.

China is currently prioritising healthcare and transportation and shipping workers for the first round of vaccinations. Unlike most other countries, it is not vaccinating anyone above the age of 59 because it did not test the vaccines on this demographic.

Two of China's leading coronavirus vaccines - made by Sinopharm and Sinovac - use inactivated virus, a vaccine process that is more well-understood - but that takes more time and is harder to scale-up compared to the mRNA method used by the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

Speaking to state media in early January, Sinopharm's chairman Yang Xiaoyun explained that his company could produce one billion doses in 2021, which would provide inoculation for 500 million people. But as of now, "the supply [of the vaccine] doesn't meet the demand," he added.

Additionally, a factor that has slowed it rate of domestic inoculation is the fact that China is exporting hundreds of millions of vaccine doses to other countries in an effort to improve international standing, especially in Africa, Europe, Brazil, Indonesia, and Muslim nations.

Shipments of hundreds of thousands of doses of the Sinopharm vaccine were donated by China to Zimbabwe in one of the first deliveries of COVID-19 vaccine to Africa.

The Zimbabwean government has purchased 600,000 more doses of the same vaccine.

About 85 per cent of Chinese citizens could theoretically get a coronavirus vaccine by the end of this year if every dose made was administered in China.





First vaccination: 18 January 2021

Number of jabs: 4,406,835 total

Rate of vaccination: 2.07 doses per 100 people

Vaccines used: Oxford/AstraZeneca (2 doses); Sinovac (2 doses)


The hardest-hit nation after the US, Brazil's vaccine rollout has been marred by shortages, an inconsistent approach to distribution, and allegations of corruption and line-jumping to obtain scarce supplies.

President Jair Bolsonaro has come under fire for denying the severity of the pandemic, and then his government's handling of a response. He has not co-ordinated a vaccine rollout plan, and clinics have been forced to form consortiums to buy up the amount of vaccines they need and can afford.

In a country that sees some of the most extreme disparities in wealth, the wealthy elite have been accused of buying quicker access to vaccines through private clinics.

Debate over corrupt distribution in Brazil first came to light after state politicians and Supreme Court employees requested 7,000 COVID-19 vaccines be set aside for themselves and their families.


Jair Bolsonaro has regularly appeared in public and mingled with supporters without a mask. Picture: Getty Images
Jair Bolsonaro has regularly appeared in public and mingled with supporters without a mask. Picture: Getty Images




The Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro had to halt COVID-19 vaccinations recently due to a lack of shots, city officials said on Monday

Vaccinations in Rio de Janeiro were halted when supply ran out and will only begin when a new shipment of shots arrives, according to officials.

"I have received the news that new doses did not arrive," Rio's Mayor Eduardo Paes posted on Twitter. "Today we are vaccinating 84-year-olds and tomorrow 83-year-olds. We are ready and have already vaccinated 244,852 people. We just need the vaccine to arrive … it should come next week."

But experts estimate Brazil won't be able to vaccinate its entire population even within 12-18 months, and those who are vaccinated will be the privileged.




First vaccination: 19 December 2020

Number of jabs: 6,162,271 total

Rate of vaccination: 71.19 doses per 100 people

Vaccines used: Moderna (2 doses); Pfizer/BioNTech (2 doses)


Israel has enjoyed outstanding success of its mass vaccination campaign which has seen 3.8 million people receive a first dose, while 2.4 million have also received a second shot.

The country of just nine million people, which is currently easing restrictions imposed during its third nationwide lockdown, is aiming to vaccinate everyone over the age of 16 by the end of March.

It is one of the world's fastest vaccination campaigns per capita.

Motivation perhaps came in the form of free pizza handed out to recipients of the Pfizer vaccine.



Israel's largest healthcare provider said on 14 February that a study of more than half a million fully vaccinated Israelis indicated the Pfizer/BioNTech jab gave 94 per cent protection against COVID-19.

However, in contrast, neighbouring Palestine said on 15 February that it had pushed back the rollout of its coronavirus vaccination campaign due to a delay in deliveries.

Authorities said they were anticipating a shipment, enabling it to start vaccinations for the general public in the occupied West Bank while sharing stock with Hamas, the Islamists who control Gaza.

"There has been a delay in the arrival of the vaccine," Palestinian prime minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said ahead of a weekly cabinet meeting, without providing further details.

He said the launch of vaccinations for the general public would be announced "at a later time," when sufficient supplies arrive.




The Palestinian Authority is expecting some two million doses ordered from various manufacturers, in addition to vaccines from the UN-backed Covax program, set up to help less wealthy nations procure vaccines.

It began vaccinating frontline healthcare workers earlier this month with an initial procurement of 10,000 doses of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine as well as several thousand doses of the Moderna product via Israel.

The Jewish state has faced international calls to share its stocks with Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank and Israeli-blocked Gaza.

The PA has registered nearly 115,000 coronavirus cases in the West Bank, including nearly 1,400 deaths, while Hamas has recorded nearly 53,600 cases in Gaza, including 537 deaths.









First vaccination: 14 December 2020

Number of jabs: 4,792,208 total

Rate of vaccination: 48.45 doses per 100 people

Vaccines used: Oxford/AstraZeneca (2 doses); Pfizer/BioNTech (2 doses); Sinopharm (2 doses)


Like Israel, the UAE achieved a better logistic vaccine program largely through its smaller population and universal healthcare system.

The Gulf nation had administered doses of three different vaccines to nearly one-fifth of its ten million people by mid-January.

It may have helped that an Islamic ruling in favour of COVID-19 vaccines by the country's Fatwa Council dispelled any scepticism about the jabs among the general Arab population.






Originally published as Global vaccine rollout: How the world is doing